The pain of the pleasure of the text : Tournier, reading and sexuality.
Wilson, Emma Fiona
University of Cambridge
Department of French, Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Wilson, E. F. (1991). The pain of the pleasure of the text : Tournier, reading and sexuality. (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11572
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This dissertation is concerned with relations between fiction and desire, and reading and pleasure, in sorne works of Michel Tournier. It discusses the contiguity between the often sexual imagery of Tournier's theoretical texts and the obsessions of his novels. Throughout the dissertation there is a double emphasis: on textuality and sexuality. Textuality in Tournier is rendered tense and sentient as the writer tries to inscribe his texts in the pain and pleasure of the flesh of the reader. Sexuality, conversely, takes on a metatextual value where desire is read in terms of a metaphor of fictional seduction. My aim is to deconstruct the double binds and duplicity inherent in Tournier's games of reflection and his play with the reader. The first chapter analyses Tournier's writing on reception with reference to the construction of gender positions and of sexual metaphors. Barthes, Cixous and others are cited as examples of theorists offering alternative eroticized scenarios which re-orient power relations between writer and reader. The next five chapters discuss representations of sexuality in specific texts and the troubling involvement of the reader in desiring relations. Two chapters are devoted to childhood sexuality and paedophilia. In these I consider issues of initiation, idealization and detournement. de majeur in Tournier's contes; and I raise questions of decoding in the case of the rape of the pre-pubescent Martine in Le Roi des aulnes, while also presenting child seduction in the same novel as a charged metaphor for Fascism. Readings of 'Lucie ou La femme sans ombre' in the fourth chapter lead into a discussion of the 'phallic mother' and fetishism in Tournier's fiction. In the fifth chapter I examine Tournier's creation of a desiring reader and (gay) reader of desire in Les Meteores. Finally, in the last chapter, I focus on Tournier's own self-imaging in terms of his quest for a double, in the form of his reader. More generally, illusion, instability and the imaginary can be seen as inhabiting the borders between textuality and sexuality: so, while this thesis looks at Tournier's works, it inevitably discusses other texts too, and ends by suggesting further analyses of reading, gender and desire.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11572
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